The room is dark, shades drawn for hours. Sandra stays unwashed in her blanket. Around her are gathering piles of laundry and stale air. Pictures have fallen over in their frames. Sandra hears her daughter, “Mommy, please get up now. Let’s get up Mommy. I want you to get up.” Sandra’s body feels like a bag of concrete and she tries to explain this to her seven-year-old. “I’m just so tired, Honey. You go play.”
Days and then months go by, like this. Some of them, Sandra is up and functioning. But mostly just. She finds her thoughts are not clear. It is hard to find words, let alone anything around the house.
“Who is this person?” Sandra thinks about herself. She wonders if her husband will leave her. He is trying to have sex less and less. They do not talk and she is pretty sure her last real orgasm was a year ago, Thursday. She cannot believe he even likes her when she dislikes herself so much.
Our value is not a very politick thing to celebrate, to speak of, or to put at the front of the line, but we, individually are worth it. Sandra is worth it.
You are worth it.
Sandra was having trouble like this. She had been missing more and more work, for “sick days” and she was worried she would be replaced. “Who are these people?” she wondered about her colleagues, whom she used to enjoy, joke with, and compete with.
It occurred to Sandra, at last, that everything that was worth living for was only insecurely hers. She thought, if she lost them, she would die. She needed to get better. She wanted to get better. All the way better, back to herself, funny and sexy and showered. That would be real nice.
Sandra took, what for her felt like, a desperate action. Sandra went to see a psychiatrist. It was not easy understanding her treatment options but basically they came down to, medications, psychotherapy, and stimulation therapies of which electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is the gold standard.
To grasp what these options meant, Sandra needed to think about how long it takes to respond to treatment, the chance of responding to treatment compared with not responding, either at all or only partially, and side effects. Because of knowing she was about to lose “it all,” (home, marriage, employment, possibly parenting rights, and more,) she decided she needed treatment that was the most likely to work and work fast. (ECT can be up to 90 percent effective in reducing the severity of symptoms.) Sandra did not want to gain weight. “I would rather die,” she said. And she did not want to get other medical problems from trying to treat another. (We call these iatrogenic, when a medical treatment causes another disease, such as an antidepressant causing obesity.) Because ECT allowed for all these, Sandra launched her ECT index treatment. She started in treatment even before she started having hope. Sandra took the action she was able to, toward her value.
This a a short story about Sandra, but her story goes on in a much richer, and pleasure filled way. I wrote her story to give you an idea of how someone who has never tried medication therapy may decide on choosing ECT as their first treatment effort when struggling with brain illness. Because of her value. Because of our value.
Question: When you explore your value, what would you like to do that more directly honors you? What does valuing yourself do for those you value outside of yourself? How can you show that you value others but caring for yourself? Please tell us your story.
Self-Care Tip: Care for yourself to care for others.